After five consecutive tournaments remaining in the penultimate round, the number two slows Tsitsipas (6-3 and 6-4) and takes a leap of play before the re-encounter with Djokovic (6-3, 6-7 and 6-3 a Schwartzman).
Rafael Nadal said that he knew what he should do, what plan he had to carry out exactly, to beat the answering young man who a week ago closed the road in the Magic Box. He said it in Madrid – “I had it clear, but I have not been able to do it …” – and he repeated it with a firm voice in the antechamber of the duel against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the arena of the Foro Italico in Rome: “I know what happened there and I know the solutions, because the theory is easy, but it is not easy to do it. But yes, I know how to play tomorrow [for today] … “, moved the number two, which from the said happened to the fact: 6-3 and 6-4 (in 1h 42m), and therefore, Nadal disembarking in the final of the Italian tournament, which in turn is the second of the year.
The Story of Nadal’s Final
Manacor was demanded a jump, a plus that, he said, was not too far, but he resisted because in the last four tournaments had not been able to cross the barrier of the penultimate round (Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, Barcelona , Madrid …) despite drawing an ascending line. And finally it arrived. Again, again, Nadal again gave off that feeling of being immense to the opposite, to dispose and order at will, even if Tsitsipas tried to discuss the command with that impudence and that compendium of exuberant faculty that later or more early you will be awarded a great prize.
The Greek came back to the track bare-chested, posing a total offensive, probably because that is the best way to overwhelm a dominator who inflicts so much respect in the adversary that usually shrinks from the first exchange. Not so to Tsitsipas, who had before him the Himalayan challenge to overcome Nadal for the second time in just a week. The Athenian knew the way, the way to success, but from one Saturday to the next the circumstances took a turn of considerable dimensions : Rome is not Madrid, the ball travels in a very different way and, above all, Nadal is correcting and taking the bull by the horns.
“Now the important thing was to recover my level, regardless of whether or not I was in the final,” said the Spaniard before the 50th in a Masters 1000, the same as Federer adds. “Beyond winning or losing, for me the most important thing is to compete well and have the opportunity to play another game that gives me the feeling that I keep moving forward. This is my top priority, “continued Nadal, eighth champion in the Foro Italico, where the tennis language changes completely.
From Madrid to Rome, a different language
“The track here is much slower, and that helps,” said Tsitsipas. At sea level, the ball gives one thousandth more to think, one more point of pause, and in those Nadal is practically ungovernable. The Spaniard arrives with more comfort, fixes the supports better and his right acquires an extra that made a dent in the backhand to a hand of the Greek, fragile in the fold. That thousandth allows Nadal to accelerate the defense-attack transition, with what all this entails: more control, more effects, higher resolution.
Soon he made it known to the rival, to the second game. Suddenly, Tsitsipas (20 years old) ran into two majestic counterattacks in a couple of climbs to the network that enabled the first break of the afternoon, for 2-0: a passing crossed manual, with the reverse, and another practically followed with the right, in parallel format. Two delicious shots that marked very quickly the pattern of the match, at the dictation of Nadal despite his opponent did not turn his face at any time and refute him until the end.
The difference is in the ‘drive’
Fresher, since the previous day did not have to compete against Federer for the resignation of the Swiss, Tsitsipas tried everything, but his tennis lost a point of effervescence with respect to what happened in Madrid, and yielded again the service in the stretch Initial of the second sleeve (2-1). Too much ground in between. The ideal scenario for Nadal, marking the distances with his ball coiled, sharpening the serve -only granted five points with seconds- and reaching the boiling point necessary to execute the jump that was demanded.
“In Madrid,” the winner said, “my right was bad. Hit the drive and he kept hitting with his, and when this happens you’re already in trouble. When your ball does not harm the opponent, the consequence is that he attacks better. Here, my ball did more damage, “concluded the Spaniard, who this time, managed to temper the offensive momentum of Titsipas and cemented a victory of a substantial soul content: finally, Nadal broke the barrier of the semifinals and released ballast. On the back of the drive and playing long, he passed an altitude test and now faces one of maximum size for the Rome trophy: Novak Djokovic (6-3, 6-7 and 6-3 to Diego Schwartzman).